Tuesday, 8 April 2014

whisky, cheese and cycling - not a good mix...

I had promised myself that with the onset of British Summer Time I would be able to find the time for a couple of short evening rides after work - didn't happen. It's annoying but there have been too many distractions and pesky freelance jobs to finish - I just ran out of time.

My only option was to rely on a longish ride on Saturday - over to my mothers and back - a total of around 43 miles. I've been making this journey for the past three weeks - it is a chore on the older bike and I think I know why. I was checking the bike over and noticed the cranks feel stiff - they don't spin freely like they should - no wonder that pedalling seems such an effort - no idea what's wrong, perhaps something seized up in the bottom bracket an ingress of salt and crap maybe? - I'll have to strip it down and investigate further.

Friday night we were out with Gaz and Val as guests of John and Jane - a 'Whisky and Cheese tasting evening' - That's right - whisky and cheese, perhaps not a combination that would be the first to spring to mind. However sceptics should give it a try - and spend a few minutes checking it out on Google - this whisky and cheese thing is big in London, there are many trendy, high class establishments singing the praises of this somewhat suspicious pairing. To be honest I was expecting the worst - a total annihilation of anything resembling 'taste' - the power of the whisky would surely be too much for the subtleties of fine cheese? - I was wrong. The whole thing was a complete revelation, the mixing of separate flavours and textures enhanced and altered into something new and entirely different. John and Jane had gone to unbelievable trouble in their preparation. We were presented with 13 whiskies and at least as many cheeses, plus chocolates to add a little more intrigue. We had sheets of tasting notes giving details of all the whiskies on offer plus space to write our own thoughts and notes as we ploughed through. Just looking through those notes, the most noticeable feature is the diminishing legibility as the night progressed.

Needless to say Saturday morning wasn't good. No need to go into detail - hangovers are boring and such a waste of time. By lunch I was feeling better, not enough to actually eat any lunch but definitely a few degrees north of dead. I decided to carry on with my plan - riding to see Mum, I vaguely remembered that I'd said I'd let Gaz know what time I'd be passing through Netherseal - I did - 3.30pm was the rough estimate and he replied to say 'great'. So off I went, slightly fuzzy, dizzy, borderline nauseous but just about well enough to stay upright. Strangely I felt better after a few miles. I sipped at my water bottle and pushed on the pedals with surprising ease. I met Gary and we rode to Barton under Needwood - he on his shiny new cycle-cross/winter bike, with disc brakes and wide, comfortable tyres. Thankfully he too had been feeling 'jaded' but nevertheless we motored along at a reasonable pace - we were trying to work out the last time we had cycled together - I thought it was probably riding to Paris, last summer - astonishing but quite possibly true!

Riding solo is fine - and it suits me in the main, but riding with someone else definitely makes things easier - can't figure out how or why that is? - but I've cycled to Barton the last few weekends - with Gary it seemed easier. Perhaps because we've covered so many miles together, suffered, experienced tremendous highs, and a few lows... I don't know, but it felt good that we were both out on familiar roads.

At my Mum's she stuffed me with pork-pie and bacon sandwiches and egg custard - riding home I thought I might vomit - it would have probably made things easier - I was tired, but not hungry when I reached home - and it was still light (just about).

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